The Case for Adult Baptism

June 24, 2010

To continue the conversation around baptism I started off with the story of my baptismal journey, I wanted to present the case for adult baptism first, followed by the case for infant baptism.

Adult baptism is hard to argue against, certainly from the biblical evidence and the testimony of the church throughout its long history. It helps that proponents of infant baptism are not against adult baptism, for in their Christian practice they baptize both infants and adults.  The mainline Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox all have established liturgy for adult baptisms. Basically, when it comes down to it, adult baptism is accepted practice in all denominations and sects of Christianity.

So, the case for adult baptism is not to prove its worth as much as it is to prove its exclusivity, namely that it should be the only accepted practice of baptism in the various streams of Christianity. Certainly, the arguments for adult baptism have their foundation in the teachings of Christ and the Acts of the Apostles:

The Great Commission—Jesus clearly teaches adult baptism when he commands the apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all he has taught them.

Pentecost—After preaching, Peter asks that those who believe in Christ repent and be baptized.

Simon the Magician—After coming to belief, the magician Simon is baptized and then follows Phillip as a disciple.

The Ethiopian Eunuch—Phillip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch after he believes in Christ.

This evidence from the Scriptures establishes adult baptism as a faithful Christian practice, and Christian history attests to this.

The case for adult baptism then rests with why it should be the only valid mode of baptism. The reasons for these, in a nutshell, are:

  • infants cannot testify to their faith.
  • infants cannot believe.
  • infants or children are not truly part of the church or God’s kingdom.
  • a person is not part of God’s kingdom until they have proclaimed faith and been baptized.
  • the system of infant baptism followed by discipleship (confirmation) does not follow the order in the Great Commission of make disciples, then baptize.

Those are just some of the many arguments that make the case for adult baptism. Many of them are valid, and certainly make sense in our Western understanding of the age of accountability, sin, and community. In the next post, I will be making the case for infant baptism.

Thomas

Thomas

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Thomas Turner has been blogging on Everyday Liturgy for the past six years. He enjoys reading, writing, cooking and gardening.

5 responses to The Case for Adult Baptism

  1. yeah! i’m looking foward to read the case for infant baptism. i have a son, one month old, and i’m still trying to figure out what to do. thank you, Thom.

  2. I’m not sure the Great Commission is meant to be a linear set of instructions. Becoming a disciple is a lifelong process, while baptism is an event. I also disagree that infants are not part of God’s Kingdom. Everyone is a citizen of the Kingdom. Justification is when we come to realize what was always true about us.

  3. Thomas

    Matt,

    Thank you for your points. I definitely see where you are coming from. This post is in a series of posts which will explore the cases for adult and infant baptism. What I wrote in the above post is not my opinion, but the argument of proponents of adult baptism.

    I will be covering matters of infants and the kingdom in my next post.

  4. kmt…..i cnt find wat im look for on these stupid page!!!!!!!!!!

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